Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

COVID-19 in Virginia

Va. surpasses 350K infections; positivity rate jumps to 14.3%

- BY SABRINA MORENO smoreno@timesdispa­ (804) 649-6103 Twitter: @sabrinaamo­renoo

Infections surpass 350,000.

For the second day in a row, Virginia’s COVID- 19 caseload increased by more than 5,100. Public health officials have said the state could experience yet another spike in infections in the aftermath of holiday gatherings and high traveler numbers since Christmas.

The total number of cases surpassed 350,000 on the first day of 2021. Almost 60%— or 206,000 infections — were reported in the past three months. That’s an average of nearly 69,000 new cases each month since October.

While testing numbers continue to trend downward, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus has jumped to 14.3% — the positivity rate the state had when entering Phase One on May 15. That same day, Virginia was reporting 28,672 total cases. In the past week, the state reported nearly that many with almost 27,000 additional infections.

Health officials have said the rise in cases is a vital indicator to gauging the current level of spread and preparing hospitals for potential surges, since there’s a significan­t lag in the reporting of deaths. Virginia has had a total of 5,081 deaths, an increase of 49 from Thursday.

Richmond- area hospitals are already reporting ICU capacities that exceed state and national averages, with the ICU at VCU Medical Center at 95%— almost 25% higher than the average reported at Virginia’s ICUs, according to data from the federal Department of Health and Human Services updated Dec. 28. Chippenham Hospital ICU is at 92%, and Henrico Doctors’ Hospital ICU is at 90%.

According to new data published by the Virginia Department of Health on Friday, VCU’s hospital has the highest number of ongoing outbreaks among medical facilities in the state, with at least 93 associated cases. The latest reported was on Christmas Eve with 18 cases.

For hospitals in Richmond and the surroundin­g counties of Chesterfie­ld and Henrico, the majority of the outbreaks began after Thanksgivi­ng.

As of Friday, 44,252 cases had been linked to the state’s 1,968 total outbreaks. Statewide, 18,540 cases have been health care workers.

Those on the front line have reported staffing shortages and fatigue made worse by the growing spread, which is not always captured by bed availabili­ty, though the state’s hospitals are currently seeing the most COVID- 19 patients hospitaliz­ed at one time.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Associatio­n dashboard, which presents data back to March 28, shows 2,754 people are hospitaliz­ed with COVID- 19 or have tests pending. This is 10 more than Thursday’s report.

The VHHA also reports that one out of every three ventilator­s in Virginia is in use.

Nearly 31,000 total people have been hospitaliz­ed and discharged, the closest representa­tion of COVID- 19 recovery that exists.

According to the VDH’s COVID- 19 dashboard, 18,166 people have been hospitaliz­ed statewide for the virus, an increase of 125 since Wednesday. This figure under- represents the total number of hospitaliz­ations.

Vaccine data

VDH data on Friday showed that the state has administer­ed 75,288 total vaccine doses, about 20% of the vials distribute­d. By the end of 2020, Virginia had received 388,100 vaccines. One in four are in the 30- 39 age group.

In Richmond and the counties of Chesterfie­ld, Hanover and Henrico, 6,478 people have received their first vaccine dose. This is roughly 11% of the people in the region estimated to qualify for the first round of vaccinatio­ns.

No one is fully vaccinated yet since each vaccine requires a second dose nearly three weeks after the first.

With vaccinatio­ns lagging behind, there’s no definitive timeline for when the next priority tier will receive their first dose.

Richmond-area numbers

Richmond and the counties of Chesterfie­ld, Hanover and Henrico have had a total of 40,496 cases, 2,125 hospitaliz­ations and 668 deaths.

Richmond has had 9,299 cases, 561 hospitaliz­ations, 95 deaths and 134 outbreaks.

The Chesterfie­ld Health District, which consists of Chesterfie­ld, Powhatan County and Colonial Heights, has had 14,714 cases, 685 hospitaliz­ations, 205 deaths and 97 outbreaks.

Henrico has had 12,573 cases, 683 hospitaliz­ations, 294 deaths and 121 outbreaks. Hanover has had 3,910 cases, 196 hospitaliz­ations and 74 deaths.

For questions regarding COVID- 19 and vaccines, the VDH has a hotline at ( 877) 275- 8343.

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